By Geoff Courtney
Members of the Lake District Foundation are celebrating the success of a campaign to raise funds towards the reopening of part of the former Cockermouth Keswick & Penrith Railway, a popular path until being devastated by floods nearly three years ago.
The three miles of trackbed between Keswick and Threlkeld had become a popular attraction to walkers, tourists and cyclists since its opening as a trail in 1985, but in December 2015 Storm Desmond struck the area with devastating results, and none more so than on this stretch of former railway.
Two original railway bridges crossing the River Greta and 220 yards of embankment were washed away, a third bridge was damaged, and a section of raised boardwalk destabilised.
The damage was estimated at nearly £5½ million, and last December Highways England provided a grant of £2½ million from a fund for paths that were suitable for off-road cycling, and so reduced the need for cyclists to use busy roads.
In addition, the Lake District National Park Authority announced a fundraising partnership with the Lake District Foundation, which finances conservation, environmental and cultural heritage projects, and this has now passed the six-figure mark – a landmark described by foundation director Sarah Swindley as “a testament to the amazing community spirit in Keswick.”
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